Officials hope to ease voting process
MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Township officials hope a duo of changes will help expedite voting in a township that has seen considerable population growth throughout the last two decades.
The U.S. census says the population grew by 24,000 residents over the last decade alone.
“We encourage two things: absentee voting and the expediting of the process,” said Township Clerk Michael Koehs.
To deal with the latter, the Board of Trustees at its Feb. 13 meeting approved both the purchasing of an additional 140 voting booths and signing an agreement with the state’s Bureau of Elections to use electronic poll books beginning in 2014. The vote was 6-0. Trustee Nancy Nevers was absent from the meeting.
“In the 2014 and especially the 2016 voting cycles, we’re going to need to successfully provide an efficient voting service for the residents of the township,” Koehs said.
Koehs explained that the poll book is essentially a laptop computer with the information of the precinct and its voters contained on the hard drive.
“You just swipe your driver’s license,” Koehs said. “It will electronically read it, assign the next available ballot number and then, at the end of the night, it will print out the poll book.”
Koehs requested the additional poll booths because the accelerated application process would only create a traffic jam at the booths.
“The voting process for the citizens should be expedited, especially since we approved the purchase of the voting booths, as well,” Koehs said. “So these are kind of hand-in-glove to improve the voting process.”
The booths will cost the township about $11,600.
Koehs said after the meeting that the poll book computers have been used in smaller municipalities with a smaller number of precincts, and that Macomb is just now switching because of its population size. The township has no elections this year, so the gap will be used to train its 150 poll workers on the new machines.
“Now that this contract is signed, we’re going to be working really hard to implement that,” Koehs said.
Patricia Schmeiser, who has been a poll worker for the last 10 years, said it seemed the computers would be taking care of three steps in one.
“It’s going to be interesting to see what’s going to happen,” she said.